Radford 0 Belper United 0
East Midlands Counties League
I’ve only ever been to Radford’s ground twice in fourteen years, and for someone who watches around 120 games a season, that’s pretty dismal.
To put that into perspective, it’s around 1700 games I’ve seen in that period, and one of the visits I made was simply because I’d never been before. So, I’ve made the conscious decision to make a revisit just once, and I remember it well, it was between Christmas and New Year, and nothing else was on!
|The Radford Road End|
Radford’s Selhurst Street Ground takes me around half an hour to get to, so why have I not been more often?
I only started to ask myself that question when I’d been at the ground for half an hour or so on Tuesday evening, and it was prompted by the fact that the people that run the club are amongst the friendliest you will ever meet. Always a smile, always a word or two, and nothing is too much trouble for them.
The ground is tidy, they have a bar, they have a club shop, they have pretty much everything you could want, and it’s Step 6 football. In fact, the excellent playing surface is one that is renowned locally as a very good port in a storm due to its drainage qualities and the fact that it doesn’t suffer the freezing conditions like other grounds in the vicinity.
|Terrace & Tea Bar|
I really did begin to wonder just why I’d swerved it so often, and I couldn’t come up with a particularly justifiable reason, other than I’d been missing out and I needed to do something about it.
Radford play in the Hyson Green area of West Nottingham. It’s an area that for decades has been the home to the Black community in the City, and for a period, unfortunately, it gained something of a reputation as a ‘no go’ area as Nottingham became blighted with gangland gun culture and the inevitable tragedy that goes with it. That said, on the very few occasions I’ve been to Hyson Green I’ve never found it anything other than vibrant or welcoming, very much like the football club situated in the middle of it.
Radford were playing Belper United, a club I have some attachment to being from the town, and over the years since they won promotion to the Central Midlands League and then the East Midlands Counties League, I’ve followed them from a distance and got to a handful of games each season. The fact it was Belper United was one of the reasons I chose to go to Radford to be fair.
Radford as a club were known as Radford Olympic in the eighties when they plied their trade in the Central Midlands League, before dropping the Olympic in 1987. They remained in the CML until 2008 when they were invited to join the newly formed EMCL, where they have remained ever since. That said though, a couple of years they won promotion very briefly after finishing runners-up to St Andrews who had been declined the move up, but, on appeal the Leicestershire based side had the decision overturned and Radford had to remain where they were. So near yet so far!
The ground at Selhurst Street is tucked just off the main Radford Road and is hemmed in by the urban nature of the area. They have little room for growth, but have made a very good job with what they have.
Covered standing areas adorn both sides of the pitch while a small seated stand is located behind the Radford Road goal. The clubhouse and dressing rooms are adjacent to this, as is the turnstile block that is accessed from a small car park that soon gets packed. Spectators are better off parking in the shoppers car park next to the ground, but it is poorly lit and various signs warn of the importance of not leaving anything on display inside your vehicle.
As I said earlier, from the moment you arrive, they are a great crowd. Little things like bringing your programme into the bar because they hadn’t arrived when you turned up. Opening up the club shop specially despite the lack of staff available, and then leaving you to browse at your leisure. It’s these little things that create the great impression of a football club, and at Radford they do just that.
As for the game, I’ll keep it simple. United hit the post twice in the first minute, but gradually Radford worked their way back into the game, and in the second period it was the hosts that dominated proceedings.
However, United seemed quite happy to go home with a point, Radford didn’t have the cutting edge to make the breakthrough. The goalless scoreline was almost inevitable.
It wasn’t a game that will live long in the memory, but Radford are a club that will. And that's why I'm going to make a real effort to become a more regular visitor.
'The Radford Effect' - the principle of not knowing what you are missing out on, and no logical explanation why!
|The Business End|